EXCLUSIVE: Dalidio undeterred, full speed ahead

February 1, 2008



An undeterred Ernie Dalidio will proceed with plans to develop his project on the southwest side of San Luis Obispo off Highway 101 following Thursday’s court decision to overturn Measure J.

“We are going to move ahead with the project,” Dalidio told UncoveredSLO.com today. “We are not going away.”

A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge tossed a momentary wrench into Dalidio’s plans to develop a 131-acre project incorporating residential, recreational, restaurants, retail, and a hotel. Judge Roger Picquet overturned a 2006 ballot initiative to authorize the project, one approved by voters by a 65-35 percent margin.

Opponents of the development, Citizens for Planning Responsibly (CPR) and the Environmental Center (ECOLSLO), claimed in their lawsuit that the project violates state laws and conflicts with the county’s general plan. Picquet ruled Measure J was not the proper subject for an initiative.

“The development has been given a message, said Rosemary Wilvert with Citizens for Planning Responsibly. “The development has to play by the rules like everyone. We are fine with Dalidio building a development as long as he plays by the rules.”

CPR and ECOSLO raised approximately $40,000 to cover their legal expenses. They are requesting the charges be reimbursed by the county, their lawsuit’s defendant, at their attorney’s going rate.

“So we got a good deal because they believe in our case,” Wilvert said. “They will be reimbursed at the going rate.”

Dalidio put Measure J on the ballot in an effort to speed along the development process.

Dalidio and his attorney Michael Morris are considering two options in response to Thursday’s ruling: either appeal Picquet’s decision or go through the county process. Morris expects the ruling to delay the project by approximately a year.

“Ernie’s view is that if two thirds of the people in this county thought this was a good project, we are going to move ahead with it,” Morris said. “It’s not always simple to get to the end of the road, but you get there.”

Opponents have battled against the development for almost 16 years.

The Downtown Association, one of Dalidio’s fiercest critics, was named along with Responsible County Development LLC in a civil suit alleging conspiracy and unlawful business practices by opponents of the Dalidio project. The lawsuit currently wends its way through the federal court system alleging five RICO counts.

According to Morris and Dalidio, the latest setback will have minimal effect on the finished project.

“I imagine we will go ahead and move ahead with this in the county,” Dalidio said. “We filed an EIR [environmental impact report] and we’ve already received the funding.”

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Member Opinions:

By: Anonymous on 3/16/08

Ernie has conducted his pursuit of this project like a real farmer, i.e., with enormous ignorance.

He never should have partnered with Byrd, an LA developer with negative connections to SLO through his involvement in the Madonna Plaza project.

He should have long ago hired RRM and let this highly esteemed local firm shepard the project.

He should have accepted the offer from the City years ago to re-zone a portion of the land in order to build a Costo. Instead he and Byrd decided on an “all or nothing” strategy that backfired in the faces. Had he agreed to a partial rezone, the rest would have been easier.

There are many other examples of how he has blundered and stumbled for 16 YEARS.

I doubt this project ever gets built.

By: Anonymous on 2/23/08

Let’s face it, if those Copeland douchebags had their way they would put any big box store downtown if they could profit from it and had the space. Who needs downtown SLO anymore? Great, let’s pay almost double for merchandise that we can get out of town! I can’t wait for the D project to get rolling….No more overpriced crap from downtown businesses that close way too early. No more urine stench! Hooray!!!

By: Anonymous on 2/22/08

I think Ernie should just make a pig farm or a chicken farm. This whole thing stinks!I’m sure you all would like to smell crap while waiting for the light to turn green. I just want to be done with this issue already. I had enough of this topic, I voted and I thought we as a county was done with it, but i guess not. Sorry to here that in this day and age we as citizens can’t agree on anything.”NICE” :(

By: Anonymous on 2/20/08

It must be nice Dr Slaughter that you and Laura make plenty of money for hot tubs, backyord climbing walls, long trips to rock climb and bicycle.

I guess you take the Bio Mercedes on all these trips. Or maybe the gas burning SUV. But that okay because you have solar panels on your huge home.

But be damned if someone else want to make some money by building something you don’t like. It would however employ some common folk that can’t afford to work and play in your world. Sounds a little unfair to me.

By: Anonymous on 2/14/08

Lefty loons – zero

Ernie – 1

The people of slo county – 1

lefty loon judge – zero

the score is now 2 to zero!

Go Ernie Go!

and if you don’t like it, move to berzerkly! They will love you loons there!

By: Anonymous on 2/9/08

Not much different from standard-grade U.S. politics: If you can’t undermine someone’s argument by name-calling and slander, lying and forgery is the next step.

No, I haven’t changed my mind. If Dalidio goes through the proper legal channels, his plan could come up for a vote again. If “we the people” vote for it, then I’ll have no choice but to sigh and start planning for 30 minute traffic delays on the south side of town. My car runs on vegetable oil, so I won’t be wasting any fossil fuels while idling in our future stop-and-go commercial congestion.

Thanks for the confidence, ThisAintLA!

By: Anonymous on 2/9/08

Nope! It’s really me. What’s wrong with changing your mind?

The other side spoke, I considered the issue again and changed my mind…flip flopped if you will, but still…I changed my mind!

By: Anonymous on 2/8/08

The real SEEP would never drink the Kool-Aid.

By: Anonymous on 2/8/08

Well maybe I was wrong. I am reconsidering my position. These bloggers have made some good points and they have changed my heart.

I will support Ernie and the project in the future.

Thanks for showing me the way.

By: Anonymous on 2/6/08 e you give a damn…about yourself and the needs of your family!”


I’m curious, “We Need Better Shopping” — which of your needs aren’t currently being met? Because I’ve lived here for well over 40 years and I’m still alive and well — apparently my needs are being met. Quite well, actually.

What I’m concerned about is that some of our essential needs… like, ummm, REAL needs such as clean air and water, safe roads and things like that, are less of a priority to people than buying more useless stuff mislabeled as “needs.”

By: Anonymous on 2/6/08

The premise that the land is no longer viable as a farm is insane. What, are there surrounding skyscrapers blocking the sun?

Just down the road in Goleta a guy named Michael Ableman has a farm in the middle of a neighborhood. It does quite well.

Sure, it is worth bazillions more as a mall but that does not change the fact that it will adversely effect the area. Try driving down Madonna at 4pm. If you think the project won’t cause more traffic then how is the place going to make money? It will only succeed if it brings more shoppers (who will have to magically transport without a car). Oh, and the 4 million for an overpass is an insulting offer.

By: Anonymous on 2/6/08

Go Ernie Go! We need better shopping in SLO! We need the jobs!

Shop like you give a damn…about yourself and the needs of your family!

Stop tax dollars streaming out of SLO!

PS: Why did all the city employees get a raise after we approved a sales tax increase?

These trough feeders must be stopped!

By: Anonymous on 2/5/08

Ernies biggest mistake is he should have partnered with the Coplands or the Madonas and it would have been finished years ago.

By: Anonymous on 2/5/08

Doesn’t Dr. Slaughter have his hands full at French? And why do you go by Seep?

By: Anonymous on 2/5/08

I didn’t know there were so many illogical people in this poor little town. I guess it’s easier to spout off and make generalizations than actually sit down and rationally analyze information.

I’m starting to understand just how doomed we are.

Seep, thanks for trying.

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

Bye Seep..off to cry in your hemp hankie.

Doctor? Okay…

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

Actually, I said that I wouldn’t be addressing “Done Deal” any more because of his/her insults and lack of intelligent thought.

I am, however, done trying to encourage a rational discussion. Most other people on this board can’t seem to appreciate or comprehend the concept.

good luck.

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

Hey! I thought Seepage wasn’t going to respond anymore…darn!

I see yet another diatribe!

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

I really don’t understand why every time somebody mentions the notion of community and shared resources you’re suddenly a weed-growing rastafarian. I’m actually a physician that is concerned about the welfare of my fellow citizens and want to promote thoughtful, responsible growth.

@observer: My posts have been logical and linear, attempting to address the many facets of this issue. If you took the time to read and analyze them properly, you’ll note that the last post discussed the fact that Dalidio’s county vote was against the law and if it comes up again after following the proper legal protocols, the county may have the chance to vote again.

BTW, hemp is actually a fantastic crop – the U.S. government used to require farmers to grow hemp during WWII for rope and clothing. It requires little to no pesticide or fertilizer use, and can be used for paper, textiles, food, biodegradeable plastics, biodiesel, and hundreds of other applications. Hearst with his media/paper industry in the earlier part of the century started a propaganda campaign against hemp so they could corner the paper market. The propaganda was so successful that the majority of Americans still believe that hemp and marijuana are the same thing.

Keep your prejudice out of civil discussion and check your facts.

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

I’ll take another bowl! Great idea to use the land to grow hemp. The renewable resource with medical marijuana as a by product.

That’s using the old noodle! Let em get my shovel and fish emulsion.

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08 Community Farm? Smoke another bowl Seep. At least with the farm you can grow your own!

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

seems that since “seep” has the longest posts thet he/she feels that more is better, yet when I read the posts they read ina circular ilogic used by many to distort the issues.

It doesn’t matter if the people of SLO have voted! The land is in the county and the county said yes.

Do you get that? or just not like it?

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

@Done deal: Since it still holds that you have yet to make any type of rational argument to support your side, I will no longer be addressing your comments.

Name-calling and insults don’t count for civilized discussion and you have undermined your own credibility.

@anonymous: I don’t understand how having development close decreases the viability of land for agriculture. We have farms, vineyards, and grazing pastures lining many major roads here in SLO and the Dalidio property has continued to produce despite the highway and Madonna Plaza next door. Does the runoff from the pavement affect the crops or is it simply a population distribution issue? Also, there haven’t been tractors on the road while it’s been farmed in the past, so I don’t see why anyone would start driving tractors to clog up traffic now.

Remember all, this has been voted on by the citizens of the city of SLO and we voted the project down. The only way that it came up for a county vote was the result of political trickery by Dalidio which is why the judge nullified measure J. If Dalidio submits the plans again properly, with a valid environmental impact report, it may come up for a vote again. At that time, we can see how the city feels about the project. We may vote it down, we may pass it. That’s the beauty of democracy.

Any interest in the community farm?

By: Anonymous on 2/4/08

Re-read the county & city’s General Plan. The new “Ernie” project fits like a glove with those that follow and believe in the process…not the spoiled brat eniviro-no growthers that would sue their Grandmother if they didn’t get their way.

The mall is going in and you can’t stop it.

As for downtown, read the polls…the average SLO city county residents don’t go downtown for major shopping. The loons blocked decent parking. Look at Santa Barbara, now there is a twon that embraces and supports their downtown. There is parking everywhere!

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

Those that suggest this land is “prime farmland” and should only be used for agricultural purposes do not understand the realities of agriculture. Once the homes were built on one side and the shopping centers on the other side, the value of the property for farming was drastically dimished. Residential and commercial uses are not compatible with agricultural uses. Further, the surrounding properties were also zoned for agriculture at one time, but the zoning was changed as development was allowed. The only appropriate use at this time is either commercial or residential. By the way, if anyone thinks traffic on Madonna is bad now – how you like to be following slow moving tractors at rush hour?

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

I don’t recall the land being up for sale. I’d be happy to buy it for a reasonable price! Mind you, it will remain agriculturally zoned so the value is much lower than a commercially zoned property.

We’ll need some local donors and the plan will be to band together to purchase the property, with all or the majority donated to the city of SLO, then continue to use it for agriculture to benefit our community. We will start a “SLO City Farm”, staffed by a few full-time employees, teachers, and volunteers. The farm will provide job training and grow organic produce for the local community as well as starting a small-scale biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol plant. A farmer’s market will be built as well as athletic fields, a public park, and an environmental and agricultural museum/education center. It will be powered by wind and solar and be a testament to modern energy technology and built using local contractors and as many locally sourced and sustainable materials as possible. It will be a step towards cooperation, community, energy independence, and sustainability. It will benefit the entire community rather than a rich few.

Sure beats a Target and yet another strip mall undermining our local prosperity. Give me an offer and I’ll write up a formal proposal for any potential donor/investors.

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

I don’t have to “further my project” as you say.

The new mall is a done deal.

What planet are you living on?

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08


I support the Dalidio project. Even though we may agree on that point, I politely ask that you please refrain form further ranting. You alienate and repulse any reader with half a brain (regardless of whether they agree with you or not) with your ridiculous name-calling (libs/Volvo-driving/socialist lefties, etc.) and playground taunts (shut it/move to Canada).

Do you honestly think that you are furthering the project that you believe in? If anything, the main players would regard you as an utter embarrassment.

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

If you don’t like what Ernie is doing shut and buy the land!

Typical liberals! It’s ok to do what you want as long as it’s somebody eleses money.

Ernie you have our support! Go baby! build it! Don’t let these spoiled brats pee in your cheerios.

The mall will be built. You lefties will be shut down…again!

Alex Madonna would be proud of Ernie, as are we the people!

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

@”Done Deal”: Your so-called “small group of radical socialist lefties” makes up more than half of the population of SLO city, as was seen in the first vote on the Dalido issue. After 12 combined years of college and graduate education, I’d say that I’ve learned to properly choose and analyze my media sources, thank you very much. I’ll have to assume that your main media outlet is the opinionated Fox network, which has been shown to purposefully spin stories for the benefit of the White House.

I suppose you also still believe that Saddam Hussein had WMDs or anything to do with the 9/11 attacks and that our imperialistic campaign in Iraq has been work the 4000 lives of our valiant soldiers in our quest for cheap oil.

The other issue here is the takeover of corporate America. Nobody seems to understand that the only thing that Target, Old Navy, Walmart, and the like want is to take your money. To do this, they have forced American factories and workers out of business in the blind desire for cheaper products. Why do you think we’re heading for a recession? Because we’ve single-handedly caused the rise of the Chinese economy by buying loads of cheap, foreign-made crap that has destroyed the once thriving American manufacturing industry and taken jobs from our citizens.

Do you really want our family owned and run downtown businesses to close? Do you want to put local people out of work so that your money can funnel up the chain to the big box corporate retailers who support sweat-shop labor and waste millions of gallons of fuel shipping toxic toys and products to our homes?

Buy locally made products, support local and organic farming, sustain your local economy, put some thought into what you buy and make sure that it comes from a sustainable and socially responsible source, consume like you give a damn.

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

“If ya don’t like the development, or the process I am sure they will welcome you in Canada.”


Are you saying “Screw you. If you don’t want to see the place you love permanently fouled, you should get out of the country.”?

If the beauty and small town atmosphere here mean nothing to you, perhaps you are the one living in the wrong place.

There are lots of places offering the kind of development you want. There are very few, and fewer all the time, sadly, of the kind of special places we call “home.”

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08


You inability to understand a direct, thoughtful and honest assessment shows that you have no ability to cummincate beyong what you are told on the “Daily Kooks, Soros’ media matters, and moveon.org websites.

I suggest backing away from the Kool-aid pal, and face the reality that Ernie will not be deterred by a small group of socialist radical lefties.

If ya don’t like the development, or the process I am sure they will welcome you in Canada.

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

“it a done deal”: your namecalling and rudeness demonstrate clearly your lack of ability for intelligent thought.

These days it’s nice to live in a civilized, thoughtful community where the people work together to help their city grow slowly in an intelligent, sustainable way. Our local farmland is what feeds us and allows much of our economic prosperity. Our locally owned shops and businesses downtown create an old-town, homey feel that attracts people from around the world to our famous Farmer’s Market. In general we don’t have traffic and our downtown is accessible by train, bus, bike, car, or with a nice stroll through the city.

It’s interesting that many of you don’t see why this is a good thing. We the people of San Luis Obispo City looked at Ernie Dalidio’s proposal 2 years ago and voted it down. We considered that it would significantly worsen an already bad traffic issue in that area, and that it would likely take a large amount of precious business from the downtown area (which is a source or tourism dollars for all businesses in the town). There was also quite a bit of contention about how much money the overpass would cost the taxpayers and how much would actually be paid by the developers. We voted on it and the majority decided that it was against the better interests of all of us to allow Dalidio to rezone his land and approve the center and the overpass. Dalidio then defied the will of the majority, went around the vote and found a way to bring his project up for a county vote, a maneuver that would bring in the votes of a larger population with less to lose if the shopping center is built, ie: city taxpayers may bear more of the brunt of the burden for the overpass, those from Paso or 5 cities area will only have to deal with the traffic when they want to go to Target instead of daily like city residents, and those with less invested in our downtown businesses don’t care if our downtown shops close when more big box retailers come into town. As we all know, the county vote won and Measure J was passed even though it did not include the environmental impact review that is required by law. Luckily local people banded together to form Citizens for Planning Responsibly, and with the Downtown Association and ECOSLO, were able to have the issue reviewed in court with a judge. The judge determined that Dalidio had indeed violated the legal planning process and decreed that Measure J was not actually even a legal vote! This is a victory for the people of San Luis Obispo against corporate retail giants and greedy consumerism. You should all be proud to live in a town with such wise and thoughtful citizens.

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

Banter all you want…I love hearing the enviro-nazis cry foul. It’s a done deal. There will be a mall and there ain’t a damn thing you libs can do about it.

I hate to burst your bubble…but the world is round! Wake up and come into the 21st century, or we will pull you there kicking and screaming!

Ernie & SLO will win…You Volvo driving, sandle wearing, medical marijauna rastafarians lose.

Deal with it.

By: Anonymous on 2/3/08

Dalido should go back to Ag uses. How loud will you all bitch when he starts a pig farm?

I think it would loog great across from the sewer plant.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

The suggestion that this land should be used for agriculture, because that is what is is zoned for, is without merit. The value of this land for agriculture has been lost as the city has, over a period of many years, allowed development to occur around the property. This surrounding development makes the land no longer viable as farmland. This property is surrounded by one side by a freeway, and by development on the other three sides. As much as all of us might like to see this property remain open space, that is not fair to the owners. Mr. Dalidio should be allowed to develop his property in a reasonable manner – just as the property around him has been developed and as the Madonna property on Los Osos Valley Road has been. Also, the suggestion that the primary responsibility for the overpass should fall on Mr. Dalidio is absurd. Anyone who is on Madonna Road or Los Osos Valley Road at rush hour knows that the overpass is already needed – with or without the Dalidio development. However, in the earlier propsal that was negotiated with the City of San Luis – and then overturned by the voters of the city – Mr. Dalidio did make a substantial commitment to help fund the overpass. Unfortunately, the voters of the City, directed by scare tactics on behalf of downtown developers, decided to negate this excellent development plan. Best of luck to Mr. Dalidio.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

This is not an “exclusive.” KSBY and the Trib both had this story before you guys did.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

I guess your major didn’t require any courses in logic or critical thinking? Anybody wanna help me count the fallacies?


Shop ’til you drop. Enjoy the low prices on all the imported crap your heart desires. Sure can’t find those treasures anywhere else! We’d better rush to build another mall, that’s for dang sure!

Let your money go to huge corporations that prey on the whims and fancies they’ve etched into the minds of suckers who now “need” all those things on the shelves.

I’m sure fulfilling that urge to constantly acquire and upgrade is more important than anything else this town has to offer.

And, after all, when all that crap ends up in the landfill, we’ll have more hilltop property to build McMansions on.

It’s a perfect plan. Thank you all, and goodnight.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

Thia Ain’t LA-Guess what we are all guilty by your standards. Going way back all of the property around here were mostly Spanish Land Grants-everything was fine then. One day one of those property owners sold part of his property to someone else-still it was alright. But now most of that land has been split up to what we call San Luis Obispo County. I guess if you want it the way it was, the original Spanish Land Grant should never had been allowed by all of the NIMBY”S.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

Dear Third Generation SLO, I’m no import. Born and raised, just like you, thank you very much.

I understand whose agriculturally zoned farmland it is. I can’t turn my house into a MacDonalds or a Marriott, right? It would certainly make me a lot more money, but alas, it would affect the neighborhood and the public at large. That’s why there are things like zoning and general plans and other community safeguards.

I’m not comfortable with the additional (and undefined) tax burden of the interchange project, the challenges related to covering a flood plain with asphalt, or the other issues (fire, sewer, police, other emergencies) related to having a county parcel floating in the city.

By the way, I’m not trying to keep people out. I like people. It’s rampant consumerism, greed, pollution and over-consumption I have a problem with. Maybe you’re comfortable letting those things determine your future, but I’m not.

I have everything I need because I know the difference between needs and corporate ad-induced wants. I know why my people came to this area initially… and it wasn’t to shop. How ’bout yours?

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

Sorry 3rd generation SLO but your a newcomer. I am 5th generation. I agree it is his land and he should be able to develop it. It is just that you NIMBY’s need to quit living in fantasy land!

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

Camper, Ain’t and Seep,

A few quick points:

It’s not “our” land, It’s his land.

Is Ain’t a native of SLO? Sound more like an import that does not want anyone else here.

Let’s build the low cost (crime) housing in Camper’s back yard. Sounds like another imported do-gooder.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

Mr. Dalidio should propose low cost housing for his acreage and build it through the county rather than the city. This stuff gets built in Nipomo all the time and is exempt from many fees and constraints and gets fast tracked. Wouldn’t it be better to have low cost housing near where the jobs are rather than 25 miles away? This type of development would serve the slow growthers in SLO with their 1% growth cap appropriately.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

Of course he’s gonna try to move ahead. As much as he’s spent on lawyers and on his advertising and PR bill with Barnett Cox, he’s in a world of hurt. I bet if he doesn’t find a way to milk this cash cow, he could lose everything. That’s where chasing a vision of dollar signs gets you.

Doesn’t make it a good idea, or the right thing to do.

Do the rest of you really think we need more places to shop? Gimme a break. Could having more cheap useless stuff really be more important than maintaining the quality of life in SLO?

Look at the hills, breathe the air. Get out of your cars and take a walk, for goodness sake. Much better than saving money on toilet brushes and low-quality imported clothing.

If you wanna live in a place that has those things, and the associated traffic and attitudes, go for it. Just head north, south or east. They’re found everywhere but here. Please, let SLO live… and breathe.

By: Anonymous on 2/2/08

You guys are all forgetting that the people had already spoken in the city vote the year before! We said WE DON’T WANT YOUR MALL when it got voted down the first time! Then Dalidio sidestepped the will of the citizens of San Luis and finagled a countywide vote. The judge is simply upholding the initial measure and recognizing that forcing the issue through for a county vote was illegally done. Measure J excluded manditory environmental reviews and violated a number of planning regulations. Plus, we don’t need more consumerist outlets here, many people live here for the “small town” feel. If you want to live in Santa Barbara, or L.A., be my guest.

And what’s wrong with environmentalists? The irresponsible use of our land and resources is already causing serious climate change and with an attitude like that, It looks like we won’t be turning it around anytime soon.

By: Anonymous on 2/1/08

We have spoken. Why don’t the judges listen? Who is in who’s pocket now?

By: Anonymous on 2/1/08

Judges like that are the main reason to vote republican! Legislating or changes the popular vote from the bench should be added to the list of violations punishable by the death penalty.

By: Anonymous on 2/1/08

No, ER actually says it all.

Environmental Rats!

Go, Ernie, go!

By: Anonymous on 2/1/08

Only in San Luis Obispo can the people vote for an issue and outcome is in the favor of the majority. Isn’t that the American Way? No! One person, a Judge, over rules an entire county. Unbelievable.

By: Anonymous on 2/1/08

Try correctly identifying the involved organizations (“the Environmental Center (ER)”. The Environmental Center of SLO County is known as ECOSLO, not “ER”. Please avoid the appearance of ignorance.

By: Anonymous on 2/1/08

Go! Ernie Go! You go get em! We are behind you all the way. We’ll bring em into the 21st century kicking or screaming!

Build Ernie Build!